View Full Version : Massive Swell, Powerful Winds Envelope Velux 5 Oceans Fleet

PD Staff
12-28-2010, 03:08 PM

The View of Operon's Stern as she continues to race! Gutek/Velux5Oceans


I went through a real horror. Last 24 hrs it was a storm in a full meaning of this word. Huge waves of 10m and 50 kn of wind. And again my self-steering gear gave me a show. Two crash gybes and one stop nose into wind and waves. As if it was not enough, I grabbed the wheel to save the situation and was trying to bear away, in a huge heel and an incredible flapping of the deeply reefed main. And – if troubles start, it never ends. The steering rod broke. (The line joining the steering wheel with a steering gear.) I can’t tell you how I managed to bear away finally, but I did! Downwind surfing was very fast and very dangerous. In one point the boat dig her nose into the water up to the mast. I thought she is going to go over the bow. But I was lucky, and the stern went (which was up in the air) leeward. And I was standing again face to the wind. Because of such a big force of striking the water, the fuse of my self-steering turned off so I had to fight with the elements once more.

I had no sleep since 2 days. Every time I wanted a nap, something happened. When I was asked before what is my biggest fear about solo sailing, I was answering: “A mechanical failure that I could not manage”. As for now I still can’t fix my self-steering electronics. I will keep on trying. I hope that even in a holiday period someone in NKE company will be able to help me. I sent a message, now waiting for answer.



The Latest chart shows Gutek and Derek neck and neck, Van Liew with the peddle down and CSM finding his stride!

Listen to Dereks Latest Audio (http://www.velux5oceans.com/latest-news/derek-speaks-massive-seas-and-freezing-temperatures/#/derek-speaks-massive-seas-and-freezing-temperatures/1179)


DEREK Hatfield has vowed to chase ocean sprint two leader Brad Van Liew as hard as possible after snatching second place from Gutek. The 58-year-old veteran solo sailor led the fleet across the Cape Town start line and out into the Southern
Ocean in the first few days of the sprint to New Zealand.

After slipping back to third place after a frustrating battle through a high pressure weather front the Canadian has climbed back into second place on Active House overtaking Gutek’s Operon Racing despite a knockdown in gale force winds.
“Active House’s autopilot has been working brilliantly so I have been letting the boat stretch its legs,” said Derek. “It’s revelling in these high speed conditions and I’m gaining more and more confidence in it all the time. You’ll see me pushing a little harder all the time.”

The midnight UTC position report polled Derek just 111 nautical miles behind Brad’s Le Pingouin and four nautical miles ahead of Operon Racing. “Brad called me to congratulate me on moving up into second position,” Derek said. “He was trying to figure out what sails I had up – it’s all good competitive fun. I’m going to push hard now. I’ve promised Brad I’m going to push him a lot harder than I did in the first leg.”

The festive period was a tough one for Derek with huge seas and winds of up to 40 knots battering Active House. To make matters worse the temperature has dropped below freezing as Derek sails along the 46th parallel at speeds of up to 15 knots. “It’s been a really tough couple of days,” he added. “It’s very cold, the wind is out of the south west. Boat speeds have been good but when the wind speed gets up that high I like to babysit the autopilots so I have been spending a lot of time on deck. Last night I spent the whole night out on deck in my chair. It was bitterly cold.

“Yesterday I had a squall that brought hail with it. The seas got massive, about 10 metre breakers. It was a very nervous time trying to make sure I didn’t get bowled over by the breakers. I got knocked down once – the mast didn’t touch the water but it was close. Everything inside the boat went flying, everything comes off the shelves, out of the bins, and flies around everywhere. Luckily nothing got broken and the autopilot worked fantastically well.”

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Hello from Active House

We are currently in the speed gate attempting to be the fastest between the longitudes of 50E and 75E. Yesterday saw some fast and furious sailing with the wind gusting to 40 kts at times. My top speed for the day was 21.2 kts on the autopilot.
I guess I am still a little leary of the autopilots capability as I found myself sitting on deck for 24 hours monitoring the pilot in case it decided to switch itself off or make any unwanted moves. So far (knock on wood) this pilot is fantastic. You can only imagine how stressfull a dodgey pilot is; not knowing when the boat is going to go into a crash gybe or tack, usuaully resulting in damage to the boat. I did suffer one knockdown caused by the large waves.
Luckily the mast did not hit the water and all that resulted was a lot of bits of kit being knocked from their places in the cabin. I had anticipated this and had put a lot of the important pieces away properly.

The highlight of the day was seeing two killer whales playing in the large 10 meter waves. It was as if they were body surfing down the huge waves. It makes me smile every time I think about them.

Take Care


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I am critically aware at the moment that I am 500nm behind in a race with three other chaps that are much more experienced than I am and that I am not going to catch up merely because I want to. I have beaten myself up for the mistake I made coming out of Cape Town and am now over it and trying to learn as much as I can about my boat in these conditions and maximize my performance to at least keep up with the leaders and thereby prove to myself at least that if I had not made a silly move early on I could have cut it with them and at least been a contender.

This means on a day to day basis I am monitoring but no longer worried by the 10 degree difference between my position and the guys up ahead - I have made my bed and now I must jolly well lie in it but whilst here I can continue to develop my boat and my systems so that in the future I might yet have chance to compete properly for a podium position. It is funny that the first leg was characterized by the boat letting me down and this leg is all about me letting the boat down!

The boat I might add is tip-top and I am finally happy that the major jobs are out of the way - yesterday I caulked the windows up properly which now means I am speaking to you from a cabin which for the first time is entirely watertight. A small thing but pleasing nevertheless to sleep without being dripped on. There is a slim hope of at least drawing closer if the leaders run themselves into light airs but they are a canny bunch and it may prove difficult to slow them down by prayer alone. For now I will enjoy the sailing, continue to look after Spartan and keep a weather eye.

Thank you to those of you who sent me Christmas messages they were very well received and greatly appreciated - if anyone has any questions about life in the Southern Ocean please do not hesitate to send them to me at csmoffshore@gmail.com.

Chris Stanmore-Major

Follow The Thread (http://www.pressure-drop.us/forums/forumdisplay.php?30-Short-Handed-Sailing)